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A querent (derived, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, from the Latin quærēns "seeking", the present participle of quærere "to seek, gain, ask") is "one who seeks".
Querent became used to denote "a person who questions an oracle" because it is usually when one has a problem that requires otherworldly advice that one would seek out the oracle in the first place. This oracle may simply be a divinatory technique, such as the I Ching, that is manipulated by the querents themselves without recourse to any other human agency. Alternatively it may involve another person, someone perhaps seen as a "fortune teller" – particularly a practitioner of tarot reading or other form of mediumship – from whom advice is sought.
The kinds of questions asked by querents may vary widely according to their needs, and the methodology of the divination system. Some querents seek general advice trusting that they will be told what is most pertinent to their present situation. Others will ask questions that are only slightly more direct such as, "Will I be rich?" and "What kind of person will I marry?" Still others seek specific advice, although opinions are divided amongst practitioners of various divinatory arts as to what constitutes a 'good' question: some say that questions in the form of "What would be likely to happen if I followed course of action X?" are potentially more useful to a querent than "Should I follow course of action X?". Yes-and-no questions are not always best because of the finality they represent, and usually most querents are after far more than just yes and no.
The mindset of a querent plays a significant role in the development of a clear and dynamic reading. Those who approach a reading with heavy skepticism, especially if they are dealing with a human oracle, are often unwilling to engage the reader at all, which can result in a stifling of the prophetic flow that is so intrinsic to divination. Conversely, some approach with great respect, as if they predetermine that the Diviner or the system of divination is influence by some kind of higher, even divine, power and thereby will believe virtually anything they are told. A third ideal group will talk freely with a human oracle and accept their advice with a healthy dose of skepticism, yet still remain open-minded to the possibility of revelation.
These querent attitudes often stem from their personal beliefs concerning spirituality and the nature of the particular oracular system they are consulting. Common theories that inform these attitudes divide generally into three classes:
- The belief that the reading is influenced by synchronicity, or some other system of coincident cause and effect, and can therefore show both personal and more general patterns.
- The belief that their own subconscious mind or higher self is somehow influencing the reading in order to pass them advice. These people often point to dream interpretation as a parallel resource.
- The belief that some external agency, such as deities, spiritual guides and ancestral spirits, will use the reading to advise them.